Creative ideas for summer schools

21 July 2021

A collection of ideas, resources, and activities to help support the wellbeing and engagement of your summer school pupils

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This summer, many young people across London will take part in summer school activities that provide academic support and creative enrichment after much disruption caused by the COVID-19 pandemic.

Compiling a selection of our own resources with a slew of activities and ideas from across the cultural sector, A New Direction has put together this summer school blog to help support the engagement and wellbeing of your summer school pupils. You can find details of the Department for Education’s Summer Schools programme for secondary schools here.

Every summer school will have its own aims and learning outcomes that are tailored to your pupils. These suggested activities can help frame your programme and provide an outlet for creative reflection and self-direction.

Creativity and self-direction

Creative writing, zine-making, and drawing are all great tools for capturing progress and giving young people an opportunity to reflect during their summer school programme. Using A New Direction's Zine Resource or Emily Fellah's Comic or Picture Book templates, start your group off with a blank story and invite them to document the week in a way that suits them.

Alternatively, ask them to first document the end of their journey, and then encourage them to use the course of your programme to document how they reach their goals. These self-directed publications can be an outlet for capturing students’ experiences in their own words and on their own terms.

Check out these other resources that give ideas for how to capture activity in your zines:

We hope this framing will support the wider enrichment and wellbeing objectives of summer schools. You can also make use of the themed resources and content below, which includes a wide array of creative activities.

Raise your voice

Encourage your students to consider the things they care about and the change they want to make in the world.

Take care

Look after yourself and take time to reflect. These resources can be adapted to thread wellbeing through your summer school plans.

Get moving

There are lots of ways to get moving this summer. From moving your body, to exploring the spaces around you, you can play with movement in a new way each day.

  • Learning Through Landscapes – ideas for taking learning outside from Learning Through Landscapes
  • Explore movement through film and animation with these resources from Barbican
  • Take inspiration from dancers who interpret and express visual arts through dance in this video from Corali

Get experimental

Summer is a time to be adventurous and try something new. Why not experiment and challenge your pupils with some of these playful activities.

  • Check out these STEAM activities from Encounter Edu, which anchor the arts in a range of STEM activities
  • Take time to bring play into your learning. Culture Mile's Play Packs come with Play Prompts from a range of artists and arts organisation, try working them into your learning every day
  • Take part in one of Little Inventor's Maker Challenges

Read some new books

The Virtual School Library provides a free online book and accompanying resources every week and is designed to complement existing school libraries. Popular children's authors and illustrators also share exclusive videos and their top three recommended reads.

Explore five-dimensional creative thinking

This year, A New Direction has applied the five-dimensional creative thinking model to our Teaching for Creativity programme – a series of rich learning materials designed to develop young people’s creativity through a broad and diverse curriculum.

The five-dimensional creative thinking model was developed from decades of research by Professor Bill Lucas, Professor Guy Claxton and Dr Ellen Spencer, and has now been widely adopted into learning policies across the globe thanks to years of field trials through the Centre for Real-World Learning at the University of Winchester.

The diagram below outlines the five Creative Habits of Mind and offers a means of tracking the development of creativity in pupils.

The Centre for Real-World Learning's five-dimensional model of creativity.png

We believe, like many others, that creativity can be taught and learned, and we want to support schools and teachers to feel equipped to do just this. Explore our Teaching for Creativity resources to find out more about how this model can be embedded into your own teaching and improve creative student outcomes.


Where next?

More creative tips for teachers

browse our bank of resources

join our creative teaching community